Hank Member Spotlight: Arlene Ciccione

Meet Arlene, a world traveler and not-quite retired Hank member who tells me what it was like working in sales and raising two children as a “woman in a man’s world.” Always up for an adventure and for meeting new people, Arlene brings an energizing perspective on growing older that we can all benefit from, regardless of our age.

I would love to first ask you a little bit about yourself. If you could tell us, where are you from and where do you live now?

I'm born and raised in the Bronx. I moved to the city 30 years ago; I live on the Upper East Side. I'm a New Yorker through and through.

On a typical day, how are you spending your time and who are you spending your time with?

Okay, I'll give you today. I went to physical therapy… at the advice of my orthopedist. Strengthening my legs. I had a bad accident and broke my kneecap. And I went to the gym on a very regular basis. And like, I guess like it did for everybody…COVID stepped in, and for awhile I didn't do much. So, I'm back trying. I came home, got dressed, had lunch with two friends. That's today. A typical day, I try to do something. And honestly, sometimes I do nothing! 

But I’ve always been a traveler. And have been to many, many places. My big adventure in April was Las Vegas.

What do you do in Vegas, dare I ask?

Well, I'm a gambler. And as a matter of fact, if it's okay, I can tell you my interesting Hank story.

Of course, we love a good Hank story!

Three weeks ago, maybe at our Monday coffee chat meeting, I met a woman sitting opposite me and we were chatting. And she mentioned or I don't know how the subject got to Atlantic City. And she said, “Oh. I have a free room. Would you like to join me?” I said, “When should I pack?” [laughing]. It was a nice connection through a woman who I really don't know. So, we texted back and forth, and we've become friends.

We met once at the coffee meeting, texted, spoke on the phone to iron out the details of getting to Atlantic City and whatever. And it worked out beautifully.

Wow. What a pleasant surprise.

Yeah, I mean, I had little reservation about going with somebody that I didn't know very well. But I figured, it’s one night. You know, how bad could it be? And turns out I made a new friend.

I have a few follow up questions to that story, actually. How did you first find out about Hank?  

I'm honestly not sure, Molly! Anyway, I'm always willing to try something. The coffee meeting was close by my neighborhood. I'm always up for new people. Hank’s philosophy appeared to me very much like Meetup was, except for my age group, and I was very involved with Meetup and had made some good friends, then. 

So I went to the meeting. There were about 12 of us. And it was wonderful, you know? What I appreciated—no drama queens. It was just a meeting to share whatever it is that connects people.

Did you feel you had something in common with them?

You know, we're all there to expand our social life. I have lots of friends, and sometimes they don't share a lot of the interests that I do. And I guess being a salesperson all my career, I've always met new people. I am not at all concerned. And as a matter of fact, conversely, I like meeting new people.

One of my questions, Arlene, is do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert—and I think I can guess the answer!

Absolute extrovert. Absolute. To a fault, you know, sometimes a little over the line perhaps.

Now, what would you say you are most motivated by these days? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

That’s a question I think about a lot. My rationale is, I'm 81 years old. I have a limit. I'm not a worrier that way. But if I’m honest, I know there's a limited amount of time that I have. So as long as I'm physically able to, I want to. You know, until I can't anymore. Maybe I'm too concerned with cramming it all in. I'm not leaving this earth just yet. But my future is somewhat limited, just by the nature of where I am in my life.

That’s a great perspective, especially because we never know when we're leaving the earth. I think people of every age sometimes feel that way—am I doing the things that are really important at the end? And so, I think that's a good attitude to have, regardless of age.

Definitely. There are still things I'd like to do. I'd like to travel, I'd like to go overseas once again, after taking the last few years away from that with Covid.. But meanwhile, I just want to enjoy what I've got and what I'm doing today and next week. That kind of thing.

I know you mentioned you were in sales. Can you just tell us a little bit about your professional background?

I married young. I didn't stay married for very long, but I have two wonderful adult sons now. When they were very young, I had to go to work. And that was 1968. And I went to work at Rand McNally printers—they’re known for Encyclopedia Brittanica, road atlases, things like that. I started in the office as a customer service rep and learned the business. And then I went into sales, and I started was selling very high volume. But I was a woman in a man's world, I had to work hard. I’d call, try to make an appointment and the gentleman on the other end, of course, would always think I was a secretary. And I'd have to explain that no, no, I’m your salesperson. It was very hard. It was very, very difficult. Eventually I changed jobs, and it was somewhat easier. But I always had the attitude that if I'm going to work, I'm going to make the best of it rather than settle. I used to speak to women's groups, and I loved that, being able to share my story. 

I work from home now, but really I do a little work—I certainly don't exert myself [laughing]. So, I'm really not totally retired. I always say I'm 90% retired.

I feel like that happens especially with people who are mentally and physically active. They don't always fully retire for a long time.

Yeah, you keep your hand in.

And my last question for you, this could involve travel, theater, dining, whatever it may be—if you could create your ideal Hank experience, what would it be?

Sitting in a villa [laughing]. I’m serious! I thought about that one. With a bunch of good Hank friends. Having wine and discussing what we did today, and what we're going to do tomorrow.

Where would the villa be?

Italy. France. I don’t care. Not the Jersey Shore [laughing]. I did go away with some friends, maybe five or six, to Mexico and Greece as a matter of fact. In a villa, with a cook. Wow, was that great. I'd like to see that, you know. I'd like to experience that again.

Do you have a favorite place that you've traveled? 

Cuba. And Africa. Kenya. Fascinating, unlike anything I've ever been to. And my very last trip was Cuba. That was a very interesting. 

Thank you, Arlene. Wow. That was wonderful. You're so much fun.

By all means, thank you, Molly. 

Read more about one of our other spotlight members, Ruchika, or join Arlene at Hank New York!

January 27, 2023

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